#52 Bloodroot – Sanguinaria

52 Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

20 April

Almost always one of the first of the ephemera to flower in the period before the trees leaf out and shade the forest floor. If you don’t have it under the trees in your garden give some thought to acquiring some (NOT by digging wild specimens though).

Sanguinaria grows from 20 to 50 cm tall. It has one large basal leaf, up to 25 cm across, with five to seven lobes that only opens out after the flowers have shown.[4] The leaves and flowers sprout from a reddish rhizome with bright orange sap that grows at or slightly below the soil surface. The bloody color of the sap is the reason for the genus name Sanguinaria. The rhizomes grow longer each year, and branch to form colonies.

The flowers bloom from March to May depending on the region and weather. They have 8–12 delicate white petals, many yellow stamens, and two sepals below the petals, which fall off after the flowers open. Each flower stem is clasped by a leaf as it emerges from the ground. The flowers open when they are in sunlight and are pollinated by small bees and flies. Seeds develop in green pods 4 to 6 cm (1 1⁄2 to 2 1⁄4 in) long, and ripen before the foliage goes dormant. The seeds are round and black to orange-red when ripe, and have white elaiosomes, which are eaten and distributed by ants.

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